Friday, September 20, 2013


Back in 2009, when we moved back to Whitby, I had a bit of a health crisis.  I probably wrote about it---the tooth infection that lead to the discovery of thyroid lumps, weight gain, blood pressure up, cholesterol up, etc.

Let me go back to the real beginning.  Long, long ago.

Growing up in the 70s, my mom was crunchy, granola-making, vitamin brother had troubles in school, so my mom was trying the Feingold diet and supplements with him.  I had a hard time swallowing pills, especially the stinky B one.  Used to hide them in the bench seat of our dinette.  Still can't stand the smell!  And the diet was horrid.  There weren't many options back then, except to do it yourself...there was no Wonder Invisible bread, LOL.

Then, in the early 80s, my little brother was born.  We were quite busy, there were more convenience foods, and the diet world was anti-fat.  When I was about 16, my dad had a heart attack and later, a quad bypass.  We started following the Heart & Stroke diet....low fat.  We didn't seem to get healthier.  I walked everywhere.  I ate low fat.  Yet, in my early 20s it was discovered that I had a poor cholesterol profile and slightly high blood pressure (though I was at an okay weight).  I was told to walk more (I was a poor student, walking everywhere while carrying a load!), eat less meat (I was a poor student, meat wasn't high on my priority list), and to eat low fat.  My weight continued to climb.  It plateaued in my mid-20s, and stayed there until 2009, though my blood pressure went up and my cholesterol kept rising (and I was on meds for both).  I just kept being told to lose weight, exercise more, eat low fat.

Spring of 2009, my weight started to climb.  We were going through a stressful time, selling our house, moving to a new city (back home).  Then the tooth infection hit, and an ultrasound showed lumps in my thyroid.  Slightly under the threshold for biopsy though.  My bloodwork was "normal", with no antibodies present.  My cholesterol was high (8.1 in the Canadian scale).  My blood pressure was high.  Meds weren't bringing either down.  I tried exercise programs.  I even gave the Ornish diet a try--very low fat, whole grains, very complicated recipes that no one really liked and left us unsatisfied and I tended to cheat.

Then, late in the summer of 2011, one of the Yahoo knitting groups I'm in started to talk about diet.  Someone who's life/health seemed similar to mine, mentioned being low carb, high fat.  How the heck could THAT be healthy?!  She recommended another group and some books for more info.

I joined the other Yahoo group and started learning, and questioning.  Grains/bread/pasta are bad?!  "But I eat "healthy" whole grains!"  well, actually, I ate a lot of white crap, LOL.  The Heart Association says to eat lots of grains (and back in the 80s, there wasn't a focus on whole grains).  The government tells you to eat low fat!  Eggs are evil!  Skim milk is the answer!  Jelly beans are great because they're fat free!!  I really thought these guys in the LCHF group were crazy and an isolated group of people.

But I kept an open mind.  I read, read, read.  Wow.  It really could be possible that eating all that pasta, bran flakes, whole wheat bread and fat-free candies, was affecting my health!!

I used to eat a measured bowl of bran flakes, with 10 chopped almonds, and a tablespoon of dried cranberries, for breakfast, at least 5 out of 7 days.  With 2% milk.  Lunch was a sandwich, usually on whole wheat, with lunch meat, cheese and lettuce.  Or, if with the kids, I'd have Kraft Dinner, soup, etc.  Dinner was a small piece of low fat meat, veggies, and a carb side--potato, noodles, rice, etc.

Switching to LCHF wasn't instant, quick, or easy.  I wasn't just making substitutes (skim milk instead of 2%, whole grain instead of white).  I was totally changing what I ate for most of my meals.  It was daunting.  I wasn't a fan of eggs.  I didn't like "cooking" breakfast or lunch.  Fatty foods made me gag.  I like sweet things.  My family certainly wouldn't change....I started with breakfast.  I had always wanted to get more protein in the morning, so I switched to eggs, bacon, sausage, or hot flax cereal, most mornings.  Lunch was hard.  I started making mini salads with some left over meat and cheese, or a bunless hot dog, or protein shakes.  Dinners were pretty easy, I just didn't eat the carb side, which made the kids happy as there was more for them.

As I was getting started with these changes, I went on that cruise.  I thought it would be tough, but it was a great way to really get into LCHF.  I could have eggs, bacon AND sausage for breakfast (and yes, I still had a couple home fries or hash browns!).  For lunch, we loved going to the gourmet salad bar.  Dinner was pretty easy too.  The hard part was the dinner dessert and the little treats at the cafe.  What was so motivating was how I felt.  Usually, I needed to eat every two hours or I turn into a witch.  Really.  But with these high protein, low carb breakfasts, I did not need a morning snack, and often I wasn't yet hungry for lunch!  Meanwhile, Rob, still eating a high volume, high carb breakfast, would need a a snack before lunch!  And then after lunch he wanted a nap.  I came home with no weight gain, and he had trouble buttoning his jeans :)

I threw myself into learning more as my weight quickly dropped off.  By the time I was Christmas shopping, I kept getting light-headed and feeling like I would pass out.  I took my blood pressure frequently, and the readings were quite low!!  I had to stop my med cold turkey.  My follow up blood work showed my cholesterol levels/ratios had greatly improved---without meds!  This was the first time ever that my LDL had gone down!  My GERD was gone.  I was sleeping well.  My joints weren't stiff in the morning, and I rarely had the acute neck and hip pain I used to have.  I was a LCHF convert by 3 months.

Rather than take the time to list a bunch of resources (since barely anyone reads this LOL), if you have a question, let me know and I'll tell you what to check out.  The best site to start would be "the Diet Doctor", and read Gary Taubes' "Why We Get Fat".  Also, Dr William Davis' "Wheat Belly" is a fabulous book, except for his use of "calories", which after reading Taubes, you'll never use the word calorie again :) 

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